[Ip-health] 9 November 2016 - WTO TRIPS Council - Holy See's statement on the Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Nov 16 03:52:37 PST 2016


On Wednesday, 9 November 2016, H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, (Holy See)
delivered the following statement at the World Trade Organization's (WTO)
TRIPS Council's discussions of the United Nations Secretary-General's High
Level Panel Report on Access to Medicines

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic , Permanent Observer of the Holy
See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva
at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Related Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPs) Council, Geneva, 9 November 2016

Mr. President,

Since this is the first time my Delegation is taking the floor during the
current session of the TRIPs Council, allow me to begin by congratulating
you on your assumption of the Chair and by assuring you of the full support
of the Holy See Delegation.

The initiative of the UN Secretary General echoes the concern expressed by
the Holy See regarding agreements on intellectual property and access to
medicines and essential health care. The achievement of a stronger balance
between the protection of the right of inventors, international human
rights law and public health objectives is clearly foreseen in Sustainable
Development Goal 3: to Achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This is a
unique moment in history. Ensuring the success of the SDGs, including an
end to the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical
diseases and combating hepatitis, water-borne and other communicable
diseases will require global solidarity and partnership, especially in
times of diverse and demanding global challenges.

As the UN Secretary-General has stated, in spite of all the efforts and the
promising results from the Millennium Development Goals, millions have been
left behind; consequently, Member States have agreed on the Sustainable
Development Goals targeting the year 2030.

In the Encyclical Letter Laudato sii Pope Francis recalls the troubling
extent of exclusion in our world "(...) there is little in the way of clear
awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet, they are
the majority of the planet's population, billions of people (...)". [49, 51]

Our focus must thus remain strong and we must remain unwavering in our
commitment to leave no one behind and to build a more sustainable world by

Access to affordable medicines no longer represents a challenge just for
the Least Developed and other developing countries; it has also become an
increasingly urgent issue for developed countries. In particular, States
find themselves unable to combat antimicrobial resistance. Moreover,
developing countries are confronted with a serious lack of new medicines,
even as public health budgets are constrained worldwide.

As we are all aware, health is a fundamental human right, essential for the
exercise of many other rights, and it is necessary for living a life in
dignity. The realization of the right to health should be a fundamental
goal of national policies and programmes, regardless of respective
economic, social, cultural, religious or political contexts. However, for
millions of people around the world, the full enjoyment of the right to
health remains an elusive goal, due, inter alia, to obstacles in access to
high quality, affordable, and acceptable medicines. This constitutes a
challenge to the flourishing of human dignity, which represents the basis
of all human rights, including the right to life, health and integral
development of the human person.

Access to essential medicines, which satisfy the priority health care needs
of the population, is a key component of the right to health (WHO
definition available at:
http://www.who.int/medicines/services/essmedicines_def/en/). Since
essential medicines must be selected with due regard to disease prevalence
and public health relevance, evidence of clinical efficacy and safety, and
comparative costs and cost-effectiveness, they should be available at
prices that are affordable both to individuals and local communities. Thus,
if we are to put in place policies that reflect human dignity and a human
rights approach we must confront and remove barriers, address questions of
affordability, and particularly, temper a disproportionate and exaggerated
demand for profits. Through dialogue, which represents the best way to
confront the problems of our world and to seek solutions that are truly
effective, we can contribute towards the building of a better world and a
better future for coming generations. Three helpful principles for such
dialogue are: solidarity, subsidiarity, and concern for the common good.
Solidarity means we care about the concerns of others as much as our own.
Subsidiarity means we accept others as equals, allows them to speak for
themselves, we listen, and we help them to participate if they need such

The Report of the High-Level Panel represents a point of departure from
which we could start to discuss remedies and correct the misalignments and
policy incoherencies between the individual and corporate rights of
inventors, innovators or manufacturers and broader human rights. This will
facilitate a discussion of trade and health in the context of the common
good and emphasize access to technologies as a right linked to health and
life. Indeed, "underlying the principle of the common good is respect for
the human person as such, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered
to his or her integral development" (Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter,
Laudato si par. 157).

As stated by Pope Francis: “Interdependence and the integration of
economies should not bear the least detriment to existing systems of health
care and social security; instead, they should promote their creation and
good functioning. Certain health issues…require urgent political attention,
above and beyond all other commercial or political interests.”( Address of
Pope Francis at the United Nations Office in Nairobi, 26 November 2015.)

Thank you, Mr. President.

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